Love skiing, but mourning the lack of snow this winter and spring? Head to Deer Valley, a top-rated family ski resort that’s free of snowboarders but heavy on snow. My own trip last month convinced me that Deer Valley’s the best place to learn to ski and enjoy it for an entire vacation. Yes, I went from beginning skier to confident on the slopes in one weekend – all thanks to a terrific instructor and a mountain like none other.
I flew out to Utah because I’d heard that the people, the snow, and the hospitality couldn’t be beat. Toward that end, I started my trip by picking my brother up at the airport (we were celebrating his 40th birthday), then heading to the Red Iguana, a Salt Lake City meeting place that’s known for its ten kinds of mole sauce and its excellent margaritas. When we saw the forty-five minute line winding its way around the outside of the joint, we almost gave up. Good thing we didn’t; we got into a lively conversation with some locals, who recommended a great Sunday brunch spot, and we eventually sat down to tasty plates of enchiladas with potatoes and chorizo, plus some of that top-notch mole sauce.
The altitude (and, OK, I’ll admit it, the margarita) started to get to us just a touch, so we headed out for an early night at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, our Salt Lake City home. The lobby was funky and fun, with a big fireplace and a wine and cheese hour every evening, plus dogs of all descriptions; after all, at Kimpton hotels, pets are important guests, just like their humans. When we got to our room, it was just as memorable – no standard beige here. Instead, the two double beds had designer touches, the furniture was in lots of colors, and a goldfish swam around in a bowl on the nightstand. Even better? The bed boasted tons of pillows, all the better to get a great night’s sleep before our ski adventure.
The next morning, we were up early to head out to Deer Valley, the family ski resort that has ranked number one in the country year after year. Let me tell you, this place was luxe: the ski rental people got on the floor to help me put my boots on, there were “hosts” all over the mountain who smiled and asked me if I was having a good time, and the lifts didn’t ever seem to stop due to mechanical problems. Luckily for me, the area had just gotten dumped with snow, but it wasn’t too cold, so the fresh air smelled like pine, and the conditions were ideal.
My fearless instructor, Lance (his lack of fear undoubtedly stemming from his 24 years of experience with beginning skiers like me) started off our morning lesson by reminding me that skiing is all about Balance, Edges, Rotating my hips, and putting Pressure on the snow. Between BERPing, finding the “spot” where my balance let me ski with ease, and joking around with Lance, the three hours flew by, and I turned out to be a wildly better skier than I’d hoped was possible after so little time.
And then . . . I skied with my brother! A guy who has been skiing for years! And I sort of kept up! (OK, not really; he stopped a lot for me . . . but still!)
We only had time to try out about eight of Deer Valley’s ninety-odd trails before we were so tired we could drop. It was time for a nap . . . then dinner. And let me tell you, even though we considered sleeping from the time the slopes close until morning, we ended up being so glad we didn’t.
Fireside Dining was THAT GREAT.
We called the Deer Valley folks for a complimentary ride up to the restaurant, situated at the top of the mountain. Our impression was that a shuttle bus was coming for us. Nope. It was a fancy SUV with our very own driver – such is the service that Deer Valley Resort provides to every single guest. We headed up the mountain, passing trees covered with fairy lights for what seemed like miles. And then we were there. And we felt like we were in heaven.
Fireside Dining is a simple concept, but one I’ve never seen anywhere else. The centerpieces of the ski lodge-like space are four floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, in front of which are cooked the four courses. Fireplace One? Raclette, complete with bread and cornichons and cold cuts. Fireplace Two? Stews. Fireplace Three? Leg of Lamb. Fireplace Four? Fondue. The dim light from the fireplaces was romantic, the food was super tasty, and my muscles relaxed as the evening ended.
When was time to head home, we hugged and promised to meet again in Utah. Next time? We’re bringing the rest of the family to Deer Valley with us.